The Dryden Observer

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St. Joseph’s School presents plan to ease traffic concerns

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.

By Samantha Hawkins

St. Joseph’s School principal Mark Lugli, brought forth some pressing concerns regarding traffic and safety surrounding his school at the last City Council meeting.

With currently over 446 students and 50 employees, St. Joseph’s is also home to a Best Start Hub, and with 20 school buses assigned to drop off and pick up students every day, traffic gets very busy between 8:15 – 8:45 a.m. and 3:10 – 3:35 p.m. on school days.

With parents and guardians, many of whom have limited mobility and find it difficult to walk the several blocks it takes to find a parking space, both visiting the school and picking up/dropping off their children, traffic congestion becomes of even greater concern, especially in the winter when snow banks grow and create access barriers says Lugli.

“When snow banks are not removed student safety is jeopardized. Young students are often drawn to playing on snow banks, which puts them closer to vehicular traffic. Snow banks cause the streets to become narrower, increasing the risk for auto-related traffic incidents as well as make it difficult for adults and children with mitigating circumstances (special needs, physical disabilities) to manage.”

The City of Dryden’s current “Winter Snow Removal Policy” does not consider school areas as a high priority for snow removal, adds Lugli in his report to council, stating that this causes bus operators to frequently have to negotiate their buses with very little clearance between themselves and other vehicles.

Lugli’s comprehensive report focused not only on the issues regarding traffic safety, but also solutions, which Chief of Police Rob Davis commends.

“I applaud Mark because he’s actually brought some solutions, it’s easy to point out the problems, but he’s actually brought some solutions that in my assessment make sense, they seem very well thought through on Mark’s behalf, just the next phase now would have to be some consultation with the people that it would impact.”

People such as those living on Evergreen/Spruce Street as one of Lugli’s proposed solutions would be to make those streets one way, with a “no left turn” onto Parkdale Road policy (possibly limited to school bus times).

Lugli and the staff at St. Joseph’s would also like to see the speed limit on Parkdale reduced to 40 km/hr and will be recommending to their Board that a fence be erected along Evergreen street to create a safe zone for students and prevent them from walking between buses when getting dropped off or picked up.

These recommendations have been formulated through discussions with the Dryden Traffic Committee and the Chief of Police, which Davis says is an admirable way to solve an ongoing problem.

“I know from an enforcement standpoint, we have several schools in Dryden that have the similar issues, his (Mark’s) being probably the most congested with traffic, but the reality being we can’t deploy everywhere at once for the start of school and the end of school so I applaud his solutions because it brings a very logical solution to the issue rather that just relying strictly on enforcement.”

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